Fingers on the soundboard-give me your thoughts

babsycobabsyco New
edited May 2009 in Gypsy Picking Posts: 10
Hey guys, long post but bear with me:

I just wanna start a discussion on the widely held opinion that you shouldn't touch the soundboard with your right hand fingers when you play: if you look at all the great players-Bireli, Angelo, Stochelo-they ALL touch the soundboard, much of the time at least. Some people say it's just a by product of the technique, but I don't believe that for a second-watch the 'There will never be another you' clip by Angelo Debarre (or any other Debarre clip) and tell me he's not stabilizing his hand with his fingers. You can see Bireli do it in that same clip (as well as any other Bireli clip). There are players who don't do it-Romane, Moreno-so 'no touching' totally works for some, but it seems to me that it is by no means a principle of the technique that you shouldn't do it.

I suspect the 'by-product' theory comes from the fact that they use the BACKs of their fingers (the nails) to touch the guitar as opposed to what would seem logical if you were using your fingers for stability, namely, the pads or tips like Wes Montgomery, but I think that means nothing-it's just what feels more comfortable and is just as effective for stability, so I think that's why they do it.

I struggled for a long time with this technique til I said '#&$* it, I need to stabilize my hand', and straight away I went from 'how the #%& does this technique work for those guys?' to 'now I get it-this feels like a plausible way to play guitar comfortably'. AND, Django fingers touched the guitar too! in one clip you can even see wear marks on his soundboard from them.

So, if you're out there like I was, struggling to figure out the finger-free-wrist-out gypsy technique, know that there are people out there like me who think it's ok to use your fingers for stability, and offer as evidence the technique of the world's greatest players, plus Django.

One disclaimer though-obviously not for La Pompe.


  • BluesBop HarryBluesBop Harry Mexico city, MexicoVirtuoso
    Posts: 1,379
    It's okay to touch the soundboard just don't press down or you'll stop it from vibrating thus muting the tone
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 6,121
    babsyco wrote:
    I just wanna start a discussion on the widely held opinion that you shouldn't touch the soundboard with your right hand fingers when you play

    I think most people accept that grazing the top with your fingers is OK....I don't think I've ever heard anyone say that you must be completely free of the top. like you said, it's pretty hard to find a player that plays with absolutely no top contact.

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